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King caps off excellent season with national title

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Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson (Image credit: Russ Baker)
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Jenni King

Jenni King (Image credit: Russ Baker)
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Holly Harris

Holly Harris (Image credit: Russ Baker)

Jenni King put an exclamation mark on an outstanding season today, taking out the elite women's cross country Australian Championship at the Australian MTB Championships in scorching conditions at Adelaide's Eagle MTB Park.

King completed five laps of the challenging course in 1:25:54. Rowena Fry was 2:35 behind, while Jodie Willett took third.

Opening a commanding 46-second lead on the second lap, King's lead only grew as the race progressed. Her championship win is her eighth win from 10 starts in the season thus far.

"I didn't want to go out too hard," said King post-race. "I was intending to sit second or third wheel. Then on the second lap I took the lead, and I tried to keep consistent lap times and just work on keeping smooth and not blowing up."

On a day where temperatures reached into the high 30s by mid-morning, leading to all race categories being trimmed by one lap, King outwardly appeared to be unaffected by the conditions.

"I try not to let things like the heat get to me - as long as you're prepared, you're fit, you hydrate well, I don't think the conditions should make a huge difference."

Released for the event from her road team, GreenEDGE-AIS, the race was second-placed Fry's first MTB effort since June, 2011. "I was unsure what my form would be like in comparison to the other girls," said Fry.

"With the heat, I planned to go out conservative and hopefully build - I did that, but I didn't quite have it in my legs to build and Jenni ended up putting too much time into me on the climbs."

Bronze-medalist Willett was enthused by her showing. "I've had a quiet start to the season. With the Oceania champs coming up and the World Cup meets, today was a good solid performance, and I'm looking to improve and start peaking a bit."

King's attention now turns to the upcoming UCI World Cup season, kicking off in South Africa March 17-18, with Olympic selection her ultimate goal.

"It's not going to be easy, but it is looking more realistic for me now and I'll definitely give it my best shot. I honestly didn't think I'd be in this position but I owe it to myself to really give it 100 per cent," said King.

Fry shares King's London ambition. Happy to be back on the dirt, the Tasmanian says her combination of MTB and road racing will be of benefit in her quest for Olympic selection.

"I head to Europe for the Classics road season in Europe on Monday which will be very, very good for my strength and hopefully come the first MTB World Cup I'm riding a good 10 percent better."

Another Olympic aspirant, 20-year-old Rebecca Henderson, who was the overall race leader after the first completed lap, streaked away with her third-consecutive national title in the under 23 category.

The ACT native completed four-lap course in 1:12:43, a massive 15:46 faster than second placed Amy Austin. Shelly Flood completed the podium.

Henderson was circumspect post-race. "I'm not super happy with how today panned out. I'm definitely pleased to take out the U23 national title but London [selection is going to be for the] best rider, and today I didn't really prove myself.

"I really suffered with the heat, which I knew was going to happen but I was hoping with my pre-race preparation it would be alright - but Jenni had an awesome race which I was happy to see."

Holly Harris was victorious in the U19 category, staving off an attack from Kyna Millan heading to the line to complete the three laps in 1:04:18. Emily Parkes) was third.

"The first lap I tried to grab a bit of a gap on the other girls. That didn't really work so I just put my head down and raced as hard as I could," said Harris.

Full Results

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jenni King1:25:54
2Rowena Fry0:02:35
3Jodie Willett0:02:56
4Jenny Fay0:04:16
5Katherine O'Shea0:04:24
6Tory Thomas0:05:14
7Therese Rhodes0:10:50
8Kelly Bartlett0:13:15
9Myriam Guillot0:14:18
10Lindsay Gorrell0:15:23
11Sarah Holmes0:16:17
12Peta Mullens0:16:21
13Jaclyn Schapel0:23:01
-1lapSally Gabriel
-2lapsRosemary Barnes

Under 23 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rebecca Henderson1:12:43
2Amy Austin0:15:46
3Shelly Flood0:21:34
4Jess Wigan0:27:17

Under 19 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Holly Harris1:04:18
2Kyna Millan0:00:13
3Emily Parkes0:04:24
DNFKaruna Henderson

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